SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — The San Jose Police Department will begin testing body-worn cameras in the field next week. But some critics are already saying it won’t work due to certain rules involving the cameras.
After years of false starts and foot-dragging, San Jose Police will begin field testing body cameras Monday, a reform that watchdog groups had long hoped would provide greater accountability and oversight of the city’s officers.READ MORE: UPDATE: Flood Waters Shut Down Lanes Of I-880; Alameda's Harbor Bay Parkway, Silverado Trail In Napa
“There’s not going to be two versions of what happened. There’s not going to be a complaint saying, ‘Hey, he was rude or he used excessive force’ versus my version of events or what I’ve documented in the police report. There’s going to be one story and it’s going to be captured on this camera,” said Officer Christian Camarillo of the San Jose Police.
But some critics, including former independent police auditor LaDoris Cordell, said the department’s body camera policy has large loopholes, leaving officers too much wiggle room about when the cameras are turned on and off.
“I think that is absolutely problematic,” Cordell told KPIX 5. “The deactivation of the camera, when to turn it off, should not be left to the discretion of an officer.”READ MORE: Atmospheric River: Santa Cruz, San Mateo County Officials Lift Evacuation Orders For CZU Fire Burn Zone
A spokesperson for the police department says the policy is clear. The cameras should be on, for example, during traffic stops, when the officer thinks someone may be committing a crime or even during more routine interactions with the public if a person is getting upset or combative.
“While the camera is an important tool, I think at the same time, we have professional officers and we still need to allow them some discretion as to how they perform their job,” said San Jose police Sgt. Elle Washburn.
But Cordell said the ability to turn the cameras off seriously undermines the purpose of having them in the first place.MORE NEWS: Atmospheric River: San Francisco Bay Area Takes Wild One Day Ride From Extreme Drought To Flooded Streets
“These are two problematic provisions that have to be rectified if we’re going to have a body-worn camera program that the community will trust and believe in,” Cordell said.